COA student to use 'peace' funds to create water project in Bolivia

Posted Tuesday, March 27, 2012 in Features

COA student to use 'peace' funds to create water project in Bolivia

Adrian Fernandez Jauregui

BAR HARBOR — Adrian Fernandez Jauregui, a first-year student at College of the Atlantic, has been named one of 100 recipients of a Kathryn W. Davis Projects for Peace award.

The $10,000 award will provide funding for his effort to assist in rain preservation and water retention in southeastern Bolivia. Fernandez Jauregui hopes to increase water collection during the rainy season, and water storage when the skies and rivers run dry among the Guarani communities.

Fernandez Jauregui hails from Samaipata, Bolivia, some 15 hours north of where he’ll be working. He says for years the Guarani communities were kept in near-slavery conditions on their own land by landlords. In 2010 their lands were returned, along with their freedom.

Fernandez Jauregui first heard of the water scarcity when his father, a Red Cross worker, took him on a visit to the region. A teenager at the time, he vowed to do something as soon as he had the opportunity. While finishing high school at the Lester B. Person College of the Pacific, one of the United World College system schools, he began studying simple, smart technologies that are useful in solving a number of issues.

In the last couple of years, creeks, rivers and lagoons have significantly dried. Meanwhile, the rainy season has become more intense, causing major floods followed by long periods of drought.

With the Davis Projects for Peace funds, Fernandez Jauregui will launch a project using simple technology to install collection tanks on roofs. These tanks will preserve the massive amounts of water that fall during the rainy season. The work will be done this summer, after evaluating which communities are most in need, and which buildings have both optimum water-collection capacity and greatest accessibility to community members. Fernandez Jauregui then will work with local contractors, leaders and volunteers, along with representatives of the Red Cross, to build at least six water-collection systems, which will contain purification and distribution capacities.

By installing these water systems, Fernandez Jauregui hopes to help the indigenous communities continue their unique culture. “Without water,” he says, “the integrity and cohesion of these self-subsisting and agriculturally based communities will be threatened. Only water can bring peace and stability to these communities, and also guarantee their independence by allowing them to stay on their lands and maintain their ways of living.”

The Davis Projects for Peace, funded by Kathryn W. Davis, was established in 2007 on Davis’ 100th birthday. Feeling a great sense of urgency toward the goal of peace, this longtime philanthropist chose to celebrate her century mark by committing $1 million to fund 100 projects by college students. The hope, she says, is to “bring new thinking to the prospects of peace in the world.” This is the sixth summer she will be offering these funds. In the past, COA students have used these funds to prevent soil erosion and pollution with a tree-planting project in St. Lucia, create a camp promoting peaceful activism in Finland, assist in cleaning up a dump in Kabul, Afghanistan, and build a community garden for those suffering from HIV/AIDS in Fort Portal, Uganda.

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